Editor’s Note: This sponsored column is written by Nick Anderson, beermonger at Arrowine (4508 Lee Highway).
Upon seeing the collection of Dogfish Head Ales I carry in stock on a regular basis, I usually get one of two reactions: either they’re excited to grab some rarities they don’t see all that often, or they feel a need to explain how ‘hit or miss’ or ‘weird’ they find Dogfish beers.
Besides the amount of this that simply comes from the beers not being to someone’s tastes, I think a lot of this is a result of so many beer drinkers being introduced to Dogfish through their IPAs, and coming to have an expectation of them that definitely does not carry over into their Ancient Ales or most of the once-per-year brews. On top of that, a lot of Dogfish’s stuff is admittedly just plain odd — or as Dogfish themselves like to say, “off-centered.”
I happen to be a big fan, so this has been a pretty good week for me — not only did the seasonal Festina Peche arrive, but two of Dogfish Head’s limited-run beers came in as well. Here’s a quick rundown of the three in case you happen to see them out and about and want to know what you’re looking at:
Festina Peche: This 4.5% ABV ‘neo-Berlinerweisse’ is made with peach juice and uses a second fermentation with Lactobacillus to bring some traditional Berliner tartness. If you go into trying Festina knowing it’s got a bit of sour and tart to it, you’ll find one of the more refreshing summer seasonal beers available. The fruit is subtle and being a Berlinerweisse keeps it from ever approaching sweetness.
Sah’tea: This is another great example of Dogfish taking an ancient style and re-imagining it. Sahti was a style prevalent in Finland hundreds of years ago, that brewers occasionally still produce today. Traditionally, Sahti is brought to boil by the addition of hot stones to the kettle, and because it was made in the time before hops became a common ingredient, juniper berries, herbs, and spices are often used for flavor and preservation. Dogfish Head’s version is boiled over hot river rocks and fermented with a Weizen yeast. A very small amount of hops is added to Sah’tea (it’s only 6 IBU) along with juniper berries and black tea for a spicy note, not to mention making a pun of the name. At 9% ABV you may expect Sah’tea to be too strong to be ‘drinkable’, but it’s a surprisingly refreshing beer with nice citrus fruit notes and just the right amount of flavor from the juniper and tea.
Black & Blue: This is an old favorite of mine among Dogfish Head’s limited-run brews. Black & Blue is a 10% ABV Belgian-style Golden Ale that has a great amount of pureed black raspberries and blueberries added just before fermentation starts, giving the Belgian yeast a lot of natural sugars to feed on. Because of this, the fruit aromas and flavors come through in a big way, but the sweetness isn’t out of hand. I know some folks who like to age Black & Blue, but I tend to prefer it closer to when it comes out, when the fruit expression is at its most potent.
If any of these beers sound interesting, they shouldn’t be too hard to find around the area right now. Try one out and maybe find yourself a new, different kind of seasonal beer. Until next time.
Community discussion guidelines: Our sponsored columns are written by members of the local business community. While we encourage a robust and open discussion, we ask that all reviews of the businesses — good or bad — be directed to another venue, like Yelp. The comments section is intended for a conversation about the topic of the article.